In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 12, 2010 / 28 Nissan 5770

Teens and Florida Spring Break: A Sometimes Lethal Combination

By Mitch Albom

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Matt James fell off a balcony. He died. He was 17, four years under the legal drinking age. Police say he was drunk. This would be a tragic story if it were an isolated story.

It's more tragic because it is not.

James was not the first underage kid to die during spring break this year. He wasn't the first in Florida, nor was he the first in party-happy Panama City Beach. He wasn't even the first in Panama City Beach to fall off a fifth-floor balcony. Just two weeks earlier, a 19-year-old man from Georgia did the same thing. Fell off. Died. Alcohol, according to the guy's friends, was involved in that one, too.

The reason James' story got huge attention over the past week was that he had been a top recruit for Notre Dame, a football star from Cincinnati with a bright future. An offensive lineman, James was hailed for his agility and his towering presence. After his death, the Internet lit up with tributes. Tearful farewells from friends and teammates. Matt James was mourned as a pied piper to small kids, a gentle giant.

Nobody spoke about how much alcohol it takes to intoxicate a 6-foot-8, 290-pound body. Nobody spoke about how preposterous it is to be having an argument with people in a room next door by leaning over the balcony and shaking your finger.

Nobody spoke about how a 17-year-old, on a trip with 40 other kids and six adults, manages to drink enough to be in such a state — at 6:30 in the evening, not exactly the wee hours — with nobody stopping him.

In fact, when James' high school football coach was asked by the media about the intoxication element, he said: "I think you trivialize the situation if you start focusing on that. A young man, a 17-year-old young man, lost his life."

Yes. And alcohol may be the reason.

There is nothing trivial about that.

If anything, alcohol is the real story here. Between March 11-28, police said they arrested 985 people in Panama City Beach for underage possession of alcohol. Read that again. Nine hundred eighty-five kids. And I call them kids, because when it comes to drinking, they are.

Which raises the question, especially with James, a 12th-grader: What are these kids doing down there? Since when did spring break become a high school thing? Since when is 40 kids with six adults — who, according to the football coach, weren't even there as official chaperones — a good ratio?

How much more evidence do you need that Florida, spring break and hotel rooms can be a dangerous combination? There is an awful history of people falling to their deaths from balconies in the Sunshine State. Sometimes they are jumping to another room to avoid crowded elevators. Sometimes they are diving into swimming pools. Sometimes they are taking foolish dares.

And sometimes they have no idea how precarious their posture is.

Letter from JWR publisher

In any and all cases, it is no place to send your high school kid. I don't care how much they beg. I don't care how hard they work in school. And I really don't care how much they promise not to drink. Come on. We were all that age. Between the pressure from your friends, the ease of acquisition and the teenage ability to stay up longer and later than any adult chaperone, booze is always going to be a threat.

How do you avoid a threat?

How about staying away.

Now, of course, your prayers go out to James' family and friends. Any death of a young, healthy man is heartbreaking.

But dying in war is one thing. Dying on spring break is another. There is no kind way to say this. But you cannot, in good conscience, paint Matt James as a tragic hero. At best he is a victim of naivete, thinking alcohol is just fine for a 17-year-old, and balconies are not dangerous places.

At worst, he is an example of the brazen fearlessness that young men exude, sometimes with deadly results. What, one imagines, could possibly have been so important to have an argument over across a balcony five stories high?

Probably something that would make you say, "Ah, you know kids." And that's the point. If you know kids, you don't allow them in those situations. Then, hopefully, you don't have to mourn them.

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